Pitter Patter

I expected rain so I took my umbrella. The drops were hardly discernible at first. I didn’t even put my hood up. I liked the feel of them on my face. The force increased building up to a steady fall. I put up my umbrella and listened to the pit pit pat. Pitter pitter pat. Is it a nice noise because of memories? Memories of childhood days with wellington boots, umbrellas and rainy-type fun. Did I have fun as a child? Did I recognise it as that? I loved coming inside from the rain, especially cold autumnal rain. Coming into a warm house, the seclusion of my bedroom, my precious safe solitude. I like being under the canopy of my umbrella. The safety, the protection it affords against the elements. Not much. The wind worries away at it, pulling and shoving. It withstands it. It is brave. It doesn’t take it personally, the wind is just doing what it does.

I’d never actually seen her before, though I’d assumed she was a she. Something about the knick knacks I can see on her windowsill, and that cosy kind of mess of a kitchen. Lots of stuff. She is often awake when I’m awake. In the early hours. I’d imagined she was a nurse. Did she think the same of me? Did she even think of me? My studio window looks straight down onto her window. Her lights were on and there she was bold as brass naked except for a pair of pants. The yellow light hanging over her head, her distant figure too far away to distinguish features, the darkness outside. A life being lived, unaware of the observer. Hopper-esque. Just like a Hopper.

Radio 4 Extra are doing re-runs of Down Your Way. Pam Ayres is hosting this particular tranche. She was in Cornwall. So koselig. There is no edge to her, she is of the people, approachable, natural, kind, I think. She interviewed the late Peter Skellern and a man whose family had lived in an old railway carriage. Think of that. I was a child who loved small spaces. I’d wanted to make our downstairs bathroom my very special home. There was a car down on the Prom this morning with a home on its back. Just like a snail.  A wooden, shed-like home, perched atop of the car. Lovely. With a little chimney too. Imagine carrying your home with you wherever you went. Good and bad. Escape but with baggage. I fantasise about a motor home holiday. There are downsides but oh the freedom, that joy in setting out.

We can we do? The newsreader played a clip where the journalist said that they were just sitting in the road not moving, traumatised. What can we do? I picture myself, sitting down next to them, in solidarity, in empathy, with compassion. What can we do? Manage our own sphere of influence. Be kind, be joyous, be alive to what is.

And my anxiety is at times an embarrassment. It pricks away at me. Comes in on waking. My back crawls with it. A tight, rigid mass of constriction. Will he help tomorrow? I believe so, though in the end it is up to me. Good things come through, positive, loving voices. Just do the work. Let the fear be. Her essay is lovely. I am honoured. I love the detail, So rich. There is no fear in her account of my practice. Who is that woman? So strong. So fearless. Fear-less. Fear less. Try joy. Try.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.